Imatges de pÓgina
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to the law of God and reason, or what is com, monly called malum in se.

As early as in the thirteenth century, our ancestors, judging that any further increase of opulence to the church would be prejudicial to the state, passed the statute of mortmain (18 Ed. I. c. 3.) to prevent any further donation of lands to a spiritual corporation, In the year 1307, (35 Ed. I.) the representatives of the nation gave the most unequivocal proof of their controul over the poffeffions of the church by enacting, that no religious house nor community should send

any part of their revenue to their foreign fuperiors; though the very fame act authorized such foreign fuperiors of the different religious orders to visit their monasteries and convents in England, and to examine and regulate bose thisīgs only, that belong to regular observation and the discipline of their order. The line of difference could not be more strongly marked between the spiritual and the civil power. For if the spiritual superiors of these religious houses had any right, power, or jurisdiction over their revenues or poffeffions, the parliament could not have prevented them from receiving them. And if these abbots, priors, or other fuperiors, had the free, full, uncontrouled power or right over the temporalities or revenues of their convents, they could not have been

prevented by parliament from disposing of them, as they might think proper; for the only full test of perfect dominion in property is the absolute freedom of disposing of it. Moreover, if these church lands were not then looked upon as a part of the national truftfund, parliament would not have enacted, that they should be forfeited to the state by such convents, as permitted their alien spiritual superiors to interfere with or take away any part of their revenues or possesions.

The church lands and revenues, which in the reign of king Henry VIII. were given to or vested in lay persons by parliament, were confirmed to the lay proprietors by the first and second Phil. & Mary, c. 8. Now if the act of divesting them out of the spiritual corporations, and vesting them in lay perfons, were facrilegious and against the law of God, or malum in se, then was it out of the power of parliament to enact it, and the act was of itself invalid, and an invalid act can receive no confirmation, for confirmare est id, quod eft, firmum facere. No length of time could induce an obligation of complying with an act of parliament, that enacted malum in fe; but in this case, barely twenty years had intervened between the passing of the acts and their fonfirmation. It appears evident, that the


parliament parliament in queen Mary's days, after their reconciliation with the fee of Rome, held themselves to possess the same power or controul over the church lands, as did the

parliament in the time of king Henry her father;

for although they might have been induced by many political reasons to confirm the possessions of the church lands to the then lay proprietors, yet the fame reasons for peace and quiet could not apply to the crown, as to private individuals ; and by that very act were all such lands and revenues confirmed to the queen, which had not been divefted out of the crown during the two preceding reigns. Whence we must necessarily conclude, that although parliament be never justifiable in misapplying any part of the national fund ; yet do they command the same power and controul over the revenues of the church, as over any other part of that fund; and are equally bound by their duty and trust to model and regulate it, as they shall think the preservation and welfare of the community require.

The statutes for the clergy and of provisors of benefices (25 Ed. III) and of premunire for suing in a foreign realm, or impeaching of judgmeilt given, (27 Ed. III.) are founded in the power of parliament, over the temporalities of the church,


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tents difcon

O man of the Nightest observation or The malcon.

reflection can at this day be ignorant tented with of the confidence, with which the malcontents the present

establigimento of the hour inveigh against the ecclesiastical and civil establishment of our present conftitutional polity; insisting upon the absolute fubversion of the one, and a general reformation and alteration of the other. But it is an obvious question, Who are these malcontents? They are not only composed of the remains of fome of the old fets of diflenters from the established church, such as anabaptists, puritans, independants, &c. but more generally of the various fets of modern subdissenting improvers upon their ancient masters, whom Dr. Price feems, with unbounded affection and zeal, to have admitted as his worthy arfociates and fellow labourers in the good common cause of diffent from the principles, and resistance against the establishment of the national church. Of these Mr. Burke speaks,

Dr. Price's encouragement to Lillent.

with his usual elegant and nervous poignancy, * « If the noble feekers should find nothing to satisfy their pious fancies, in the old staple of the national church, or in all the rich variety to be found in the well-assorted warea houses of the diffenting congregations; Dr. Price advises them to improve upon nonconformity, and to set up, each of them, a separate meeting. house, upon his own particular principles f. It is somewhat remarkable, that this reverend divine should be so earnest for setting up new churches, and fo perfectly indifferent concerning the doctrines which

may be taught in them. His zeal is of a curious character. It is not for the propagation of his own opinions, but of any opipions. It is not for the diffusion of truth, but for the fpreading of contradiction. Let the noble teachers but dissent, it is no matter from whom or from what. This great point once fecured, it is taken for granted their res

• Refections on the Revolution in France, p. 14,

and 15.

+ “Those who dillike that mode of worship, which is prescribed by public authority, ought, if they can find no worthip out of the church, which they approve, to set up a separate worship for themselves; and by doing this, and giving an example of a rational and manly worship, men of weight, from their rank and literature, may do the greatest service to focicty, and the world." P. 18, Dr. Price's Sermon.

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